Latest update March 23rd, 2023 12:59 AM
Nov 20, 2010 News
… raise pickets against the return of Evan Persaud
Students at the University of Guyana yesterday chose to speak out in protest against the powers-that-be.
Yesterday morning several students gathered in front of the Education Lecture Theatre (ELT) with their placards and staged what was described as a peaceful protest. Chief among their issues was the Evan Persaud debacle.
Accused of acting in a manner ‘unbecoming of a lecturer’, Persaud was allegedly verbally abusive to his students, used profanities and sexual innuendos during classes and was even accused of violating the integrity of the University’s programme by holding his course examinations outside of the University grounds and the controls therein.
Representing the University of Guyana Students Society (UGSS) in the protest line was Ganesh Mahipaul, Secretary of the UGSS. Mahipaul said that the higher echelons of the administration were gathered in the ELT for their Annual Business Meeting and that they were going to put aside the standing orders of business temporarily during that meeting to address the Evan Persuad issue.
Mahipaul, who is one of the almost 30 complainants in the case against Evan Persaud, said that he wants Persaud gone, and in ordinary circumstances the lecturer would have been sacked a long time ago but for his political connections.
Earlier this year, there were insinuations that the original investigations were not as objective as they should have been because Persaud and the persons tasked with investigating the charges were political affiliates.
Mahipaul added that the only way to guarantee that the matter is settled fairly and swiftly is to have an independent probe conducted. He stressed that the team undertaking that probe needs to be not only competent, but completely objective or there will be no justice in the matter.
Former President of the UGSS, Sherod Duncan, said of the Evan Persaud case, that it has been dragging on for almost two years now.
“Perhaps it might have been better to send this case through the courts. We know how slow the courts in Guyana are, but even they would have been faster than this.”
It was pointed out that while this matter has been pending for all this time, Persaud has not been teaching but his salary is being paid.
Meanwhile there are students who face being expelled after almost an entire semester at the University because they have been unable to secure a loan for their programme. Gathered in the protest line were a number of those who were reading for a degree in Pharmacy.
Theirs was the other issue that the students were protesting.
The students said that under the Faculty of Health Sciences, students studying Medicine, Dentistry and Medical Technology can access loans, in some cases up to $500,000 per year, yet the students studying Pharmacy and Optometry cannot. Those students are expected to ante up $277,000 every year to pay their own tuition.
And according to University policy, if a student’s fees are not paid (whether loan or cash) by a certain date, that student will not be allowed to write final examinations or remain at the University. That date was yesterday.
The protestors did highlight that the University Administration has tried to secure loans for the students in these programmes. Mahipaul noted that the administration, in the person of the Registrar, Vincent Alexander, has been in communication with the Ministry about the need to provide loans but the officials at the Ministry have thus far, not responded to the University’s requests.
Mahipaul said on the matter, “The government and the administration are playing at politics but that is not fair to the students who are caught in the middle. Education is a right and not a privilege.”
According to the students, there were a number of issues that needed to be addressed but they felt that these two were the most pressing at the time.
The conditions of the classrooms, and washroom facilities, the lack of up to date and relevant information in the University library, the lack of multimedia presentation resources for very large classes and the shortage of lecturers are just a few of the other problems that students want to see dealt with, but for now the matters surrounding Evan Persuad and loans for students in the Pharmacy programmes are paramount.
Among those present in the protest line and lending his support to the students was Peter Ramsaroop who bemoaned the conditions of the country’s only University.
He said that standards at the University are deplorable both locally and regionally. He also said that if the country wanted to see development there needed to be greater investment in education.
Mahipaul was keen on the need for students to be agents of change, “In the same manner that the students are critical of the administration they must also be critical of themselves.”
Mahipaul pointed out that unlike more vociferous student populations around the world, the students at the University of Guyana are just as responsible for the way that things are as the Government or Administration.
Students need to stand up and speak out against the conditions that they are being forced to endure as they seek to gain an education otherwise they cannot expect anything to change.
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